Michelle Obama has openly made her health and fitness a priority, a first for any first lady. As Editor-in-Chief of Prevention magazine, I wanted to know more. We met recently, and she shared her rules for living a balanced lifestyle. Here, in her words, are her 9 essential moves for staying happy and healthy:
1) Allow Yourself to Be Happy
Good health is multifaceted-it's physical, it's internal, it's my diet, and my emotional state. It's all tied together. Throughout my life, I've learned to make choices that make me happy and make sense for me. Even my husband is happier when I'm happy. He has always said, "You figure out what you want to do," because he's discovered that personal happiness is connected to everything.
2) Find Balance as a Mother
I think my mother taught me what not to do. She put us first, always, sometimes to the detriment of herself. She encouraged me not to do that. She'd say being a good mother isn't all about sacrificing; it's really investing and putting yourself higher on your priority list. You can be a good mom and still work out, get your rest, have a career-or not. She encouraged me to find that balance.
3) Make Yourself a Priority
I have freed myself to put me on the priority list and say, yes, I can make choices that make me happy, and it will ripple and benefit my kids, my husband, and my physical health. That's hard for women to own; we're not taught to do that. It's a lesson that I want to teach my girls so they don't wait for their "aha" moment until they're in their 30s like I was (laughs). Maybe they can experience it a little earlier.
4) Embrace Your Age
Nothing really scares me about aging. I look at my mom-she's 72, and she's happy and looks great. To me, with age, everything has gotten better. You have way more control; you know yourself better. My goal is to be a great-looking 70-year-old! I won't mind being 70, but I want people to say, "You're 70?"
5) Define Your Own Happiness
You know, happiness for me really is when my kids are good and when my family is whole. Moving [to the White House], whatever stresses would be on my husband and me, we could handle; we are grown-ups. But it wouldn't be until the day that my kids came home and said to me, "I like it here," that I'd feel like I could breathe and know that we're all going to be okay here. And that happened very early into the year. My happiness is measured against theirs-when they're in a good place, I feel really good.
6) Get Healthy While You're Young
I always want to be in the best shape that I can be. What I'm discovering is that the older you get, the more work you have to do to stay there. When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted, as long as I exercised; or if I didn't exercise and just watched what I ate, I'd maintain. Well, now I have to do both. I'm varying my workouts so it's not just cardio but also includes moves to maintain my flexibility. I incorporated Pilates and do much more stretching. I try to tell young people to get in shape now, because it's easier. If you're 30 and want to drop 10 pounds, all you have to do is just walk (laughs).
7) Do Workouts You Enjoy
I'll do intervals because I don't run long and those are killer, so I'm always happy when I'm finished. I enjoy arm exercises because you can actually see what it's hitting.
8) Enjoy Everything in Moderation
I try to have no absolute nos. I love french fries, I like a good burger, and I like pie. And that's okay. I would be depressed if I felt I could never eat the things that I love. I also don't want my girls to be obsessed about food. We don't have a "no junk food" rule-I just want them to think about their choices. When my older daughter asks, "Can I have pie?" I'll say, "Did you have it yesterday? Well, what do you think?" And she'll come to the conclusion that, you know, you're right, I shouldn't eat pie every night.
9) Nurture Your Relationship
One of the things that attracted me to Barack was his emotional honesty. Right off the bat he said what he felt. There are no games with him-he is who he appears to be. I feel fortunate as a woman to have a husband who loves me and shows me in every way.
More Ways to Live a Happy and Healthy Life from Prevention:
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Let yourself indulge in too much ice cream, barbecue and summer treats? Start your fall on the right foot. Lose weight with Liz and 2-Week Turnaround!
[photo via Yahoo! News]